The New Novel

SUR LA ROUTE

by Adrian Leeds

Knowing an author has its advantages. And knowing an author, or two, or twenty or even more isn't very difficult in Paris. Authors in Paris are a dime a dozen -- great ones, good ones, mediocre ones, aspiring ones and even those that don't yet know they have it in them to be great.

As a result, the bookshelf is overflowing with signed copies of some of the finest books, most of which are filled with poignant words, either ABOUT the city of Paris, or filled with stories SET in Paris.

Occasionally, I have the distinct pleasure of getting an advance review copy from the author. I returned from New York last week to a tall stack of unopened mail, in which was poet and old friend Cecilia Woloch's newest "novella" titled "Sur la Route." (Quale Press)

Normally, a new book goes directly into the "to be read" section on the shelf along with the others that are waiting "to be read." This time it was different. I opened it and started to read.

The first word led to a page and a page led to 200 pages. I read without looking up while walking to the bus stop, waiting at the stop, riding on the bus, walking to my destination and all the way home again. At page 63, I recognized myself and my family in her story about her arrival in Paris in 1994 when we first met, slightly disguised by a small change of names, but nonetheless quite obvious it was our first encounter.

That wasn't important. Every luscious word in Woloch's novella counts. The 224 vignettes, described as "vivid, poetic episodes"..."sexy, intriguing, and passionate"....are so much more than that. It's about discovering Paris and all it has to offer, from the people who inhabit it to the inner beauty of the city that is like no other to what Woloch was experiencing from the inside. The prose will open your own heart as she has opened hers and as she opened mine.

Here's just a taste:

Chapter 2, Page 3

"And what am I running from? Los Angeles falling away, already, beneath me -- forever: too bright, too flat. My life as a stranger everywhere. The way I keep failing and failing at love. My fear of being trapped inside that shining flatness, too. Perhaps what Baudelaire described as 'l'horreur du domicile.'

And what am I running toward that I've only glimpsed but keep longing for? A city with grit on its heels and the smell of tobacco on its breath. A river that glimmers, as if with stars. A world inside the world, just out of reach, more 'real' somehow.

It's 1994, I've just turned 38 years old, an age when a woman in Los Angeles begins to disappear. Okay, I think, disappear. Close my eyes above one city; open them in another city halfway around the world."

Sadly the book is not yet for sale on the open market, but will be soon! And to hear Cecilia Woloch read from "Sur la Route," plan on attending a special event at Skylight Books on April 4th at 5 p.m. at 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

If you can't be in Los Angeles, then be sure to be here in Paris at Parler Paris Après Midi on June 9th where she will be gracing us with her novella and her words about "Paris as an Inspiration for Writers: Blurring the Borders Between Autobiography, Fiction and Poetry."

Visit Parler Paris Après Midi for more information.